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The Friday Five 26.05.23

Published on: 25 May 2023


Location: Kendal, Cumbria/Hybrid

The job: “We’re looking for a keen and confident Planner to take on a challenging and rewarding enforcement casework role in one of England’s most spectacular landscapes and largest World Heritage Sites.

“You’ll be one of five team members doing enforcement casework and an integral part of our development management service.  We pursue a decisive approach to compliance with a strong focus on formal action that has seen us become one of the most active enforcement authorities nationally, regularly placing top 10 outside London for the number of enforcement notices we serve.  Our casework covers a wide range of planning content. Unauthorised operations and unauthorised uses are common – particularly holiday lets.

“You’ll have the day-to-day support of great peers alongside you and in the wider service, and a strong group of members and councillors who value your work giving you confidence.  There’s an up-to-date local plan and weighty landscape, heritage and environmental designations to aid you, not to mention fewer permitted development rights to contend with.”

A pinch of snuff [square]Fun fact: Kendal was, until quite recently, a centre for snuff manufacture and reputedly the location of the oldest piece of industrial machinery still in regular use up to 2017. This is the date when Samuel Gawith and Co, a company with roots which can be traced back to 1792, was dissolved.

The story goes that back in 1792 a Kendal man, Thomas Harrison, transported 50 tons of second-hand snuff manufacturing equipment from Glasgow, to set up trade in his home town. The business he started was passed on to a son-in-law, Samuel Gawith, who changed the name to Samuel Gawith and Co, and the firm was in operation as such from around 1862 until around 2017, when it was finally dissolved.

The business was based at Kendal Brown House in the town and right up to its end was apparently still using some of the machinery brought to the town in 1792 by Harrison. It’s estimated that, since this was already second-hand, it would have been manufactured some time in the 1750s. According to one (diligent) source, a 1965 edition of Design and Components in Engineering judged it to be the oldest piece of industrial machinery still in regular production use, citing the magazine thus: “The reason we feel confident in accepting the estimate of (at least) 210 years as being the age of the machine is that the central drive bevel wheels have wedged wooden teeth. Had cast iron gear wheels been available they would most probably have been chosen as the central drive members, and since they were available about 1760 it is safe to assume that the machine dates back to about 1750.”

‘Snuff’, for those who don’t know, is a form of smokeless tobacco composed of finely ground tobacco leaves. Traditionally, a ‘pinch’ of snuff is sniffed from the back of the hand, giving a ‘hit’ of nicotine. Its popularity in the UK apparently increased after the indoor smoking ban was introduced in 2007.

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Location: Shrewsbury, Shropshire

The job: “One of the oldest and most respected property consultants in Shropshire immediately requires a graduate planning consultant with at least two years’ experience and a senior planning consultant with at least four years’ experience to join our expanding planning department based in Shrewsbury on a full-time basis.

“The successful candidate will be responsible for the delivery of our wide-ranging consultancy services across the residential, commercial, leisure and agricultural sectors, involving the preparation, submission and management of planning applications, planning appeals and working with clients in land promotion and strategic land allocation across the Midlands. 

“You will work both independently and as part of our multidisciplinary team preparing evidence to support development proposals and submitting planning applications for a range of different types and sizes of schemes. This will include liaising with technical specialists, and representing clients at committee, appeal hearings and local plan examinations. You would be responsible for helping our clients, many of whom are other local businesses, to navigate the planning system to achieve  successful outcomes.”

Street sign in Shrewsbury [square]Fun fact:  Shrewsbury is noted for retaining its medieval street pattern, with many narrow passages. It’s also noted for retaining a large number of unusual street names, many of which can be traced back centuries.

These ‘shuts’ (derived from ‘shoot’ as in ‘to shoot through’) include such colourfully labelled thoroughfares as Grope Lane (a sanitised version of a once much ruder name for a place where men could find prostitutes); Gullet Passage, Murivance, Bear Steps (pictured – presumably where bear-baiting or bear dancing might happen), Shoplatch, Dogpole, Wyle Cop and more.

There’s also Ditherington Road, believed to be so-called because it’s where people were hanged and left twitching – or ‘dithering’ – as they died. Medieval life, eh? Sounds a right laugh.

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Location: Bristol

The job: “Design West is the design and policy review service for the West of England. It brings together leading experts from across the region to raise the quality of design in the built and natural environment. Our mission is to inspire the public, politicians and professionals across the built environment to design better, healthier places to live, work and relax. Our programmes inspire, inform and involve people in the design of the world around them. 

“We now seek a talented and passionate design officer to help deliver design services across the South West. The Design West design officer is responsible for coordinating the Design West review panels, a unique role that combines strong interpersonal skills, sector knowledge and attention to detail. 

“You’ll be working with some of the best architects, landscape architects, urban designers, environmental engineers and transport planners in the region and the world to shape better places.

“Main responsibilities are spread across three areas: panel coordination, panel administration and research.”

Fry's Chocolate Cream [square]Fun fact: Bristol is where the ‘solid’ chocolate bar was invented and where the world’s first mass-produced chocolate bar was made – the one and only Fry’s Chocolate Cream. These cocoa-based innovations were achieved courtesy of Bristolian chocolatier Joseph Fry, who in 1847 perfected a process for mixing the ingredients of cocoa powder, sugar and cocoa into a paste that could then be put into a mould to make a solid bar.

Up to this point chocolate had been taken either as a drink or as a ‘bar’ composed of compressed shavings or flakes. What Fry did was create the first solid bar that could be mass-produced. Production of Fry’s Chocolate Cream began at the firm’s Union Street factory in 1866.

Numerous other innovations followed: Fry’s Turkish Delight in 1914; the Creme Egg in 1963. Launched in the 18th century, Fry’s was for a long time one of the big three British chocolate producers (along with Cadbury and Rowntree’s). In 1919 the company was merged with Cadbury and became a division of the larger firm. Following the latter’s takeover by Kraft Foods in 2010, Fry’s historic home at Somerdale near Bristol was closed.

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Location: Melton, Leicestershire

The job: “Melton is an exciting place to work right now – more than £100m is being invested in our new distributor road to deliver our local plan which is now under construction, and we were part of a successful joint bid for levelling up funding for £23m to deliver events space, food production facilities and refurbishment of the town’s theatre.

“By coming to Melton you can look forward to being involved in many varied projects, from the development of our food innovation site at The Stockyard, major housing developments to deliver our sustainable neighbourhoods and rural proposals (and everything in between!).

“We have various opportunities available within our planning development management and planning policy service areas as part of our Growth and Regeneration Directorate, and we are looking to recruit enthusiastic professionals wishing to work in a new and exciting way whilst promoting change for the borough council.

“As a planning development officer, you will be dealing with a varied caseload of planning applications ideally with a focus on majors and large or complex minor applications. We are seeking both experienced and motivated planning professionals with a wide range of well-developed planning skills and knowledge, with a track record in delivery.

“As a planning policy officer you will have a superb opportunity to work as part of our local plans team who are embarking upon the five-year review of the successful local plan, adopted in 2018. You’ll be able to focus on specific areas of plan-making, whilst getting a superb overall view of the wider issues relating to planning policy across the team.”

Tin of red paint [square]Fun fact: The phrase ‘painting the town red’ to denote a wild night out allegedly originated in an incident in Melton involving an Irish aristocrat, a tin of red paint and a lot of alcohol in 1837.

On 6 April Henry Beresford, the 3rd Marquess of Waterford – a notoriously badly behaved upper-class type (think Bullingdon) who some believe to have been the semi-mythical Spring-Heeled Jack – went on a drunken rampage through the town with a bunch of his hunting mates.

They’d spent the previous day at Croxton races and were extremely well-lubricated on arriving at Melton’s tollgate in the morning. Affronted by the gatekeeper asking for payment to enter the town, they grabbed ladders, brushed and pots of red paint that were being used for repairs to the gate, attacked the gatekeeper and a local constable, painting them red, then entered the town.

Newspaper reports describe them chasing along the main street, painting doors red, pulling down pub signs, vandalising the Post Office, trying to overturn a caravan and beating up and painting policemen. On sobering up, the Marquess paid for all the damage. A later court case found the and his friends not guilty of rioting, but they were fined quite heavily for common assault. 

And the phrase ‘painting the town red’ entered the language. Allegedly.

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Location: Pentrebach, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales

The job: “Merthyr Tydfil, one of the most historically fascinating and beautiful regions of Wales is ideally placed between Brecon Beacons National Park and Wales Capital City Cardiff. Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council Planning team won the RTPI Award for Planning Excellence in 2022 and the RTPI Cymru Award for Planning Excellence in 2021.

“You will have a caseload of major, complex applications, and will be a key member of the team, ensuring the placemaking agenda is delivered for the benefit of the residents of Merthyr Tydfil. You will be involved in an interesting range of projects across the authority, working with other departments to deliver schools, regeneration projects, masterplans and various housing solutions. No two days are the same and you will find working for the department to be rewarding, interesting and challenging.”

Laura Ashley sign [square]Fun fact: What does the once heavily industrial mining landscape of Merthyr Tydfil have to do with finely printed floral fabrics used to make headscarves, dresses, tea towels, furnishing fabrics and the like?

Laura Ashley. The fashion designer and businesswoman was born in the town in 1925. She was raised partly by her grandmother, who taught her quilting as a girl. She didn’t revisit the craft until the 1950s, by which time she was married with two children, lived in London and worked as a secretary with the National Federation of Women’s Institutes.

At some point she undertook development work for her employer on quilting and visited a Women’s Institute exhibition of traditional crafts at the Victoria & Albert Museum. These inspired her to start designing headscarves, napkins, table mats and tea towels, which her engineer husband printed on a machine of his own design in their attic flat in Pimlico.

Ashley’s Romantic Victorian designs and natural fabrics were a hit, and a mail order headscarf business run by the husband-and-wife team grew into a shop (back in Wales), which grew into further forays into women’s fashion, which grew into a large and successful business, which grew into a cultural phenomenon. By the time of her death (at just 60 after a fall), the Ashleys had a yacht, a private jet, a French chateau, a Welsh mansion, a Brussels town house and a Caribbean villa. It’s fair to say, though, that Laura Ashley transformed women’s fashions in the UK and gave rise to an entire aesthetic that remains popular today.

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Image credits | Vichni, Shutterstock; iStock; Urbanbuzz, Shutterstock; Dzmitry-Stankevich, Shutterstock; Oleksiichik, Shutterstock